ABC was the first American television network to broadcast the Pan American Games in 1963, when they devoted one episode of their Wide World of Sports anthology program to the games. The doubled their coverage to two episodes of the show in 1967. CBS then bought the rights to the 1975 and 1979 Games at the same time. Their coverage in 1975 was mainly shown on CBS Sports Spectacular, their equivalent to Wide World of Sports. CBS repeated this process of aired most of its coverage on CBS Sports Spectacular in 1979.
For the 1983 games, CBS aired all of its coverage on weekend afternoons. These games also marked the first of three consecutive hosting assignments of Brent Musburger. CBS endured numerous obstacles in the run up to the games, including missing video tape machines and mobile units, inexperienced technicians from several countries, a last minute disagreement with the host broadcaster that left CBS scrambling to add 5 more cameras to the 3 it planned to use at the opening ceremony, and more. In addition, when a large doping scandal broke out at the games, including the sudden departure of 12 American athletes to avoid drug testing, Musburger made special reports on the scandal during the CBS Morning News and CBS Evening News, as well as during the regularly scheduled coverage.
CBS broadcast its fourth consecutive Pan American Games in 1987 and provided the host feed as well. This would be the last time that CBS would broadcast the games. Brent Musburger as previously alluded to, returned as host.
In 1991, ABC sought the rights to the Pan Am Games in Havana. The negotiations became bogged down in the U.S. embargo against Cuba, which forbade direct payments to Cuba. After a protracted negotiation with the U.S. Justice Department, ABC eventually inked a deal to broadcast the games. (The fee was paid indirectly to avoid the embargo. ABC partnered with Ted Turner's TNT cable channel for the Havana games. TNT aired the prime time coverage with Ernie Johnson Jr. as host, while Brent Musburger (who had been fired by CBS in March 1990) anchored ABC's weekend afternoon coverage. This would be the last time the games were broadcast by a major broadcast network in the United States. All coverage since has aired on cable or Spanish-language networks.
In the United States, ESPN and ESPN Deportes held the broadcasting rights for the Pan American Games through 2019.